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Some people say that heartbreak can make for great art, and the details of gay poet Kevin Tyler Norman’s failed long-distance relationship that he digested in his book Shelter might be an argument in favour of that point.

What would you do if you travelled to the other side of the world to surprise your long-distance boyfriend, only to learn he’d been dating someone behind your back? That’s what happened to Kevin, who met his then-boyfriend in the United States while the latter was travelling for work. While it could have been a summer fling, this guy told Kevin he wanted more, and the two carried on a long-distance relationship, Kevin in Los Angeles, his boyfriend in Australia.

The following months saw multiple trips back and forth, a surprise in which his boyfriend visited him for his birthday, regular video chat sessions, even meeting the family. Kevin and his boyfriend even bought a plane ticket to Australia so Kevin could make the big move Down Under.

“I planned a surprise trip to visit him, and right before I was to leave the U.S., he called me and confessed he was seeing someone else in Australia but ended that relationship because he ultimately wanted to be with me. So, being foolishly in love, I still followed through with my trip, letting him know I was coming, and after a week with me in Australia, he said he made a mistake and wanted to be with the other Australian guy. He then left me alone in his apartment while he went to go make amends with his now-boyfriend.”

The very next day Kevin flew back to the States, “heartbroken and completely wrecked.” In order to process his grief and dismay, he says he turned to writing. “I started to see the story I needed to tell.” Back in October, he released Shelter, a self-published, 196-page book of poetry detailing the whirlwind experience of a long-distance relationship that ends in heartbreak. “It documents the falling in love, the heartbreak and the healing,” he says.

“I named it Shelter because poetry is what has always helped me feel safe while I wait out the storm,” Norman tells Hornet. “When I returned home from Australia, I had a choice — I could cry and beg my ex for answers or I could just accept the truth of the situation and move on. I chose to move on, but I wasn’t going to do it without a fight. And in turn, I fought for myself and brought my poetry to life so that anyone who faces a terrible heartbreak can know they are not alone, and they never will be.”

If nothing else, Shelter is proof that hardship and pain can be turned into something beautiful. Since its release, Shelter has been making traction among all sorts of people, gay and straight, and the L.A. Times wrote a glowing piece about Kevin’s goal of helping others to appreciate love and cope with heartbreak.

“When I released Shelter, I never could have imagined the amount of love and support it’s been receiving,” he says. “It was always just a project to help me heal from my own heartbreak, but now I am seeing it heal others as well, and it’s so empowering. Love is such a universal thing, no matter your sexuality, and the feedback I’ve received from readers helps to remind me I am not alone in my struggles, and in return, neither are they.”

Comments 2

  1. “It’s sad to belong to someone else when the right one comes along…” England Dan & John Ford Coley

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